I guess you are all familiar with that feeling after you have spent a huge amount of time working on something and your brain is totally fried? That feeling, where you are so mentally exhausted, the only thing you can think about is consuming through a plate of some greasy snack.
Of course most of us are familiar with that feeling. It is no secret that a demanding work drives plenty of us to reach for junk food. It’s delicious, distracting and most importantly it’s rewarding.
But it can also be fattening, since 99% of us find ourselves buried under a stressful and brain-draining to-do list on a daily basis.
The good news is that science may have just found the trick that can stop you from wanting to eat junk when you are burnt out or stressed-out from work. But, what is this trick that can stop you from stress eating? Let’s find out.
According to study results published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, exercise is the trick to stop your stress eating. The researchers treated 2 groups of participants to an eat-all-you-can-pizza lunch, wherein they tracked how many calories the participants consumed.
Then the study participants came back for another pizzafest the following week. Before eating, both group participants had to complete a mentally draining test.
The first group participants had to sit and rest for 15 minutes before they could finally start eating. While the participants in the second group were forced to complete at least 15 minutes of high-intensity exercise, before they were allowed to eat.
Here’s the conclusion of the study. The participants who rested after taking the test, consumed around 100 more calories’ worth of pizza compared to the week before. But, the participants who exercised after taking the test, consumed around 25 calories less. Added to that, they burned additional calories from working out.
Hard mental work can force your brain to use up a lot of energy and when your brain senses that it’s running low on energy, it wants to make sure that energy gets replenished. Hence, your urge to grab a snack.
But when you work-out, your muscles release lactic acid into your bloodstream. That readily available lactate would be an easy source of energy in the brain. Since your brain’s energy needs are already replenished, you no longer have that overpowering urge to put food in your mouth.
Other factors could be considered too. Exercise or work out can stimulate hormones that temporarily suppress your appetite. Also, there’s that psychological aspect, “Having a distraction like an exercise or work out, could be the buffer between that mentally draining work and snacking, that you need.
This all sounds great! But, 15 minutes of intense exercise is not something that most of you can do in the middle of the day. So maybe you can get away with something less? Like a a quick stroll around your building?
The lead researchers say that “Perhaps if people are aware of the findings and the strategy, maybe it does not have to be 15 minutes of high-intensity exercise”. Probably going for a short walk first, can be enough of a distraction to keep you from snacking.